A personal record of what's going on in my Northern Michigan zone 4 gardens. I use raised beds and grow organically. Nothing fancy--just trying to garden with nature in mind.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Garden Update and Plans --April 1, 2016


Overview of Vegetable Garden April 1, 2016

Greetings All
It's been the oddest winter up here---we had no snow until January and there wasn't much of it then.
We didn't even buy trail stickers for our snowmobiles---it was that lousy.
BUT--Mother Nature has a great sense of humor---we got 8 inches of snow last weekend, and this weekend we are to get another 3-5 inches.  Free fertilizer, right Mama Pea??

As you can see from the top photo---I've made some changes in the layout of the fruit garden.
I ripped up the four beds of strawberries---we have such cold nights in July that the berries would have heavy dews and just rot.  In five years , I only had one outstanding year.  No more. I'll buy them
and use the space for other things.

So, I made 6 beds measuring 8X10 foot.  I'll use them for Pumpkins, Corn, and Tomatoes
I also am re-trying sweet potatoes--a crop notoriously hard to grow in the north.  My Amish friend
Lydia said to do it in raised beds and keep them covered .   I hope that does the job as we eat a LOT of sweet potatoes.
New Beds for Corn, Pumpkins, and Tomatoes


I got all the sunflower and corn stalks run through the chipper already and redistributed back into
the beds from which they came.  It makes a fine mulch and puts everything back into the soil.

Sunflower and misc sttalks and stems ground up and returned to the soil

I have one cold frame started already with lettuce, spinach, radish and kohlrabi.  This is the first year I did not have to wade out in deep  snow and "pre-heat" my coldframe.  When we came home mid-March, the ground was thawed. Very very unusual for here.

I have started transplanting some of the new, baby Chandler blueberry bushes into their new home.
Hubby expanded the garden for me last year so I can put in another 14 bushes. We eat GOBS of
them and would like to have plenty extra on hand as well  to give away.
The New Addition --Space for 14 more Chandler Blueberry Bushes



And finally--this is the plans for the vegetable gardens.  I do not draw in the aisles, so just "imagine" them in between the beds. An artist I am not--but you get the idea.

Vegetable Garden -- 24 beds each measuring 4 ft by 8 ft




The Newly configured beds on the left and of course the blueberry patch (original one)


I'll update at the beginning of next month. There's really nothing much going on here for the coming month but a lot of edging of borders and the misc. "grunt" work--setting up trellises, etc.

Have a Happy Spring







69 comments:

  1. That's it. I'm done looking at your photos. Even your EMPTY beds, at this dreary time of year up norther, look beautifully landscaped! How do you do it?

    Our ground is still frozen a couple of inches down. I just noticed on my April calendar that I didn't uncover the strawberries, rhubarb, garlic, etc. until April 29th last year. That's a whole other F-O-U-R weeks! Waaaaaah.

    Tomorrow morning with my coffee I'm going to study your garden plans to see how I can make my layout look better. (Come on, fess up. You really have a crew of 12 you employ all gardening season, right?)

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    1. Mama Pea-I know-I was stunned at the garden being free from snow and frost. This is crazy early--and it's not helping with that antsy, wanting to get out and plant feeling.
      And it's just me out there. I am too much of a control freak to let anyone else help--though hubby was allowed in last fall to manure the beds because I was too ill. He's back to being "banished". I'm so mean!

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  2. Every time I see an overview photo of your garden, I just sit back and sigh....it is so incredibly awesome! Because of our septic, I have to have 3 separate areas for the beds, which is a royal pain in the butt. Look at all those potato beds - pales to my measly one! Do you know how much you harvest from them?

    That's too bad about the strawberries - sometimes we just have to cut our losses. I'm not at that stage yet as I'm still trying to figure out if my failures are due to something I did (and can change) or not...so I keep trying. Can't wait to see your garden in full swing again this year - and Happy Spring to you...when it eventually arrives :)

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    1. Hi Margaret--I get roughly 75-100 pounds out of the four beds. I always have a few "stray" taters coming up in previous years' beds and that nets me another 10-20 pounds. I think I do better on the stray taters than I do on the ones I plant and treat nicely.
      It took me five years to realize I can't grow strawberries. Bothers me no end, but I do need the space, so that's helping me get over it.
      Happy Spring to you too. It's at least seed starting time.....

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    2. Same here with potatoes! The volunteers are always the best. I wonder what they are trying to tell us?

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    3. len-I know what they're telling me---leave us alone, but I cannot resist trying to be orderly with them!
      :)

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  3. What a large and organized garden! I am insanely jealous. I am trying to hold myself down this year. Right.

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    1. Susan-if you hold back, that can only mean something is WRONG!! We love your energy and all you do. Makes for interesting (and sometimes hilarious!) reading on your blog.

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  4. It looks fabulous! Wish I could be there to help you with the grunt work! I can't wait to see it all come up!

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    1. Daisy--that house a couple miles from me is STILL FOR SALE!! C'mon....please? We could help each other out. And I will bundle you up super toasty and take you snowmobiling. You'll love it.
      Where ya gonna find a purty farmhouse on 15 acres for $75K, huh?????
      I know you're intrigued......
      :)

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    2. Oh, you're one wicked woman! ;0D

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    3. Yes. Yes I am. AND I make a KILLER apple pie and good coffee.
      You won't find 15 ACRES in a SECLUDED valley with a pretty farmhouse, AND an instant friend that makes good pie and coffee for $79K anywhere!!!
      Teehee

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  5. Wow - I wish I had as much room as you. Very neat operation

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    1. Hi John-It's a 45 by 55 foot garden-keeps me outta trouble-haha!
      Have a great weekend in the Maine woods

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  6. Hi Sue<

    Your garden (and plans) look amazingly organized as usual. I am so envious! We are redoing our beds as well. I am hoping to have a deer resistant fortress since the wankers destroyed everything last year. I did plant my lettuce, spinach and green onions in a portable rolling bed near the back of the house. I sowed some Sweet Williams and Thunbergia alata 'Blushing Susie' (aka black eyed susan vine) in my rolling trellised pot on my entry porch. (Are you sensing a theme of portable, lol?) I have yet to meander to the back and check if my blackberries survived, alas my blueberries dd not and only 1 peach tree. And last night I started my seeds for a varieties peppers, tomatoes, cucurbits. I have high hopes of a good gardening year!

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    1. Hi Tonya-wow-sounds neat-I sure hope you're taking pics and will post on that soon.
      My neighbors down the road have started gardening in portable troughs--so very cool--they just wheel them into their garage at night to protect them from the cold.
      Happy Spring and best of luck in the new gardening season

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  7. Sue,

    I've added you to my blog roster, and look forward to reading your upcoming posts. I must admit, I'm jealous of your garden beds. This year we've downsized what will be planted. To little time right now in our lives to work a garden as large as we normally plant.

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    1. Hi Sandy-It's always hard to cut back on a garden, but sometimes it's necessary to save our sanity and to fit a busy life in just right.
      As long as you get the most important (favorite!) stuff, even a window box is great. I couldn't live without a bed of lettuce. And a tomato!!
      Happy Spring

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  8. It looks like you're making good progress in getting ready for the new growing season! Love all your raised beds.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth--the garden is in it's eighth year now so doesn't require much prep anymore so that's always helpful. Now if I could just train the grass to "Keep Out"-I'd really have it made.

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  9. Wow that's a lot of blueberries. I have just four bushes that never produce lots of fruit - any tips?

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    1. Good Morning, Sue--the main thing with blueberries is ACID soil. Though I've never tested mine, it's a former christmas tree farm---hence, very acidic soil. That's the only thing that makes them produce--if the soil isn't acidic, they don't draw up the needed minerals they need. Other than that, they are super carefree. Just check that soil!!

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  10. Hello, your gardens are looking awesome. I am just surprised you do all this work by yourself. I hope the sweet potatoes do well, they are one of my favorites. It is a shame about the strawberries. It will be great to enjoy the harvest. Happy weekend!

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    1. Hi Eileen--I love gardening so much that to me , it's not work at all.
      Have a happy weekend

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  11. Looks like you're all set and ready to go :)

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    1. Hi Dani--yes, but just today we are getting a lot of snow so that puts even the edging and set up work on hold. Thanks for the visit
      :)

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  12. OHBOY!! The Spring catalog pics are out! LOL You give me raised-bed envy every time I see that layout. Everything so neat, tidy, organized. Ambitious charts. I see the OCD is still going strong (one to another, *heh*). Yep, like you looking forward to see what kind of growing season we'll have, especially after this weird winter we just had. (And still having: snow and teens in the forecast; 50+ mph this afternoon/night (so tired of picking up after the trees...*sigh*).) A fenced-in blueberry patch? Be still my heart!

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    1. Hey Kris--We just got another 4 inches of snow last night and this morning. More in the forecast and yes, the darn winds too. Blech! But it's spring on my seed starting rack--lots o' little seedlings reaching for the (fake) light. Hang in there, dear lady. And sorry about the branches....it's never ending, isn't it?!!

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    2. I'd rather b!tch about picking up branches than not having the wonderful trees. I love my trees!

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    3. I love your trees too! I have serious yard envy. I need you up here!

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  13. Sue, I agree. It's been a different kind of Winter here in Nebraska as well. The ground was thawed and workable in the middle of February. That's about a month earlier than normal. I am not planting any earlier but it did give me a chance to do some extra work on fence building around the Sweet Corn fortress and get the beds ready for planting. I planted the bucket tomatoes for the backyard kitchen garden yesterday. They will be inside when the weather cold and bad and outside when it's warm and sunny. Last year I had my first tomato on July 5th. Hopefully, I can replicate that this year. The bulk of tomatoes come deep into August.

    You really have a big garden. I have twelve raised beds and know how much work it is to take care of them. I can't imagine how much work it is to care for a garden your size.

    Have a great day in the garden.

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    1. Hi David---the garden is at that stage now that it's almost care-free. I never disturb the soil (except for digging potatoes), so there is no weeding in those beds ever needed.
      I'd love to have a tomato in July---or even August!
      Can't wait for an update on your garden.
      Have a great weekend

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  14. Looks like great plans as always. Now if I could do one tenth that good in my garden....:)

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    1. TB--I'm pretty sure you're selling yourself short!
      Any travels on the agenda this spring?

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  15. Okay - I think we need to get you out of there - way to wacky, your weather! I thought ours was extreme. Today we are working outside - it is over 70 and we are expecting thunder storms. We have a chicken smoking in the Weber 14" Smokey Mountain cooker. I feel so bad about the cold you have headed your way the next couple of days, not to mention the snow. Hang in there - spring will make a brief visit and summer will be upon you!!!

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    1. Hi 2 Tramps--bribing me with chicken and warm weather? I love you!!!
      We got 4 inches of snow yesterday and another 3-6 on the way. I guess it's back to reading and cooking! Or I can camp out on your doorstep and steal your chicken in the smoker--haha!
      Have a terrific week

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  16. You really do have the most impressive vegetable garden and it will be even more impressive when planted. Good luck with this year's growing season.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny--I appreciate that. And hope Ma Nature is a bit kinder to you this year as well. Let's think cooler temps and plentiful rains! Have a great spring

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  17. You sound really ready to garden. Your beds look so nice. Sometimes I wish I had a slower warm up to really "ready" things best. Seems we go from freezing to hot with some odd cold snaps in there at first. Strawberries don't work for me well because of the hot wind I think. I'm making plans to repurpose the area I was holding for them too. Glad your garden is getting some snow. Take care!!!

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    1. Hi GonSS-The slow start (VERY VERY SLOW) to our spring is a good time to do a lot of the boring jobs like edging beds and making up new borders, etc, but wow-a nice toasty blast of sun would feel SO good right now.
      Enjoy your wonderful forecast there in KS!

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  18. You are so organized. I'm super impressed! Looking forward to seeing those plots overflowing with green :)

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    1. Hey Jim---Well, you'll be waiting awhile--I've got a June 4 last frost date around here--but look out then!! LOL!

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  19. Your garden with its raised beds is truly impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing pics as the weeks go by and maybe, just maybe, warmer weather arrives for you.

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    1. Hi Granny-thank you for your kind comment. And yes-we NEED some warmth!
      Happy Spring

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  20. Hi Sue, I think the weather has been different all over this year. We only had one blizzard like snow. We get a few warmer days and then cold again and cold nights! I did plant a 4x4 bed of new strawberries but that is all that is planted so far. Planted small row of lettuces in cold frame but didn't put the cover down and they never came up. Need to get things planted in there! Your beds are so ready and organized! I hope you have a good gardening year! Nancy

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    1. Good Morning, Nancy-We're having more snow this week than we did all winter. It's crazy beautiful out right now, but I am sick sick sick of winter. Please send some warmth. And cover those lettuces!!!
      :)

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  21. Snow in April is just plain evil. But your garden just looks sooooo good.

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    1. len-we normally do have snow through mid April, but we had such a lovely warm-up last month that I am now DONE with snow. Got another 5 inches yesterday. BAH!

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  22. HOw often do the deer invade that awesome raised bed area?

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    1. The deer have never gotten in there----from what I "understand" (hahah), they cannot judge distance (?) and so even though they could jump the fence, they can't judge all the raised beds. But---now I am getting some wide open spaces in there, so maybe this year they'll be able to do it.
      I sure hope not. It's the one place I can have flowers that don't get mauled to death.

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    2. I figured out that distance thing too. It's why I have a 4 ft fence around my container garden. The plants are just out of reach, but close enough together that a jumper couldn't find a place to land. I now considering lower but very wide hedging around the place. Nothing pleases me more than thwarting those ba$stards. Maybe if those open spaces are near the border, plant something tall along the fence (tall salvias or sunflowers to confuse their depth perception. Good luck!

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    3. Great idea, Kris. Appreciate all the help I can get. There has to be SOMEPLACE we can grow without those sneaky B's eating it all.

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  23. My goodness Sue that is quite a veg garden. We had a strange winter too and now it has returned to hit my bulbs that are blooming...sad really as it will not last just a day or 2. My few beds are enough for me...I take my hat off to anyone who has that many veg beds...lots of work!

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    1. Hi Donna-we grow most of what we eat for vegetables, so the garden has to be that big. I enjoy it, though.....and would probably still grow that much even if we didn't eat that much.
      Forgot to add on your blog that I LOVE your pond!

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  24. Your garden looks wonderful even in it's "naked" state. I can't wait to see what it'll look like once you get planting! I've got some tomatoes and peppers started but haven't really given much thought to what else I might want to grow this year. Last year was such a disappointing year, I wasn't even sure if I would grow anything this year at all...

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    1. Anke, I'm really hoping you plant more in your garden---I love your updates on it as it's always SO tidy and neat (my favorite thing!!!) Of course, I'm sure your 1/2 marathons keep you busy, but you'll miss those fresh veggies!!

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  25. Hi Sue. Holy Cow! Even in the winter your garden looks great! We are just starting to plan here. We have the winter that just doesn't want to go away here, so no real progress. My first thing will be to get the tiller out for the open plots then get some fruit trees in.

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    1. Hey Mark--I'm envying your fruit tree plans. Seems that only apples can grow here anymore with the schizo winters and super late frosts! I've lost all my other fruits. Good luck in the garden this year---and don't forget lots of pics of your "helpers"--hahah---is that maybe UN-helpers?

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  26. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog.
    Your garden is amazing! I am looking forward to following along as things get growing. I was interested to see that you are in Northern Michigan. My grandpa lived in Traverse City and I always enjoyed visiting him when I was a kid.

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    1. Hi Happy@Home--I live about 50 miles from Traverse and we do our grocery shopping there! Small world!
      :)
      I was drawn to your blog by the name of it, because I, too, am Happy at home! Looking forward to all your posts. Thanks for the visit

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  27. I'm always amazed at your wonderful gardens and the work you put into them. I'm going to miss having a garden now that we are in Florida although the nice thing is that we've got two great farmer's markets. I can already buy just picked tomatoes whereas in New Hampshire, I would be just be starting seeds that wouldn't get planted until the end of May.

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    1. Hi Karen--our neighbors go to Florida every winter and they RAVE about the wonderful markets down there. Sometimes I wonder when we'll come to our senses and move someplace that at least has a longer growing season. Ah well--perhaps in a few years, hubby will tire of mowing so much.
      Good to hear from you!
      Happy Spring, Karen

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  28. Ye gads-what a garden! I gardened in Alberta until 3 years ago-know all about the vagaries of snow. We are extending our garden but I doubt it will ever be as big, or tidy, as yours.

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    1. Hi Susan--Seems I expand --just a little more--every year. I dread the day I have to start cutting back, so I just enjoy while I still can.
      Have a great spring in the garden

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  29. Sorry you missed winter!! We did too! Yay for Jeremy! I smiled to see you changing your layout!! Seems like that has been on my mind this spring too. .get rid of the crap that doesn't do well. .and take another road!! Wishing you the best!!

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    1. Melanie---OMG!!! I was thinking about you just yesterday---hooray--you're still around!! So happy to "see" you. Looking forward to your update.
      Happy Spring

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  30. Hi Sue, I hope all of the snow has melted by now. I love your garden set up and plans. Oh, I just remembered I was going to move some of my raspberry plants to spread them into a larger area across the street before the rain. I am thankful for the rain, though. We really need it. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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    1. Snow is all gone except in shadowy areas where there is a lot of trees.
      So happy you've gotten rain--but why does it always seem to be "all or none" anymore!!
      Happy Spring

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